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20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

3295000567_e628ce1167_o Disabled people are the world’s largest minority.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  That law has improved the lives of the disabled in the United States and brought greater awareness to the issues they face.  But more needs to be done here and in developing countries, where 80 percent of the world’s disabled live. 

At Interplast, we treat a hidden minority within the disabled community: those who have become needlessly disabled because of burn injuries.  Few realize the scope and impact of disabling burn injuries in the developing world, but every 5 seconds someone is severely burned in a developing country---more than 6 million people annually.   That is 1.5 times more than the number of women worldwide who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year.

Compounding the large scope is the fact that proper burn treatment is almost nonexistent for the world’s impoverished.  Consequently, their wounds, even relatively minor ones, often “heal” unnecessarily into disabilities, as the skin closes and tightens into contractures. These are disabilities that most cannot even imagine and something that never happens in the United States: heads fused to necks unmoving; fingers stuck together useless; legs contracted and bent, preventing walking.

In 2009, the U.S. took a step toward advancing the rights of the disabled worldwide by signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  However, the task of actually improving these conditions is daunting.  Moreover, before such measures will help the millions with debilitating burn injuries, burns first must be acknowledged as a neglected global health problem and a significant cause of disability in developing countries.  Please help us spread the word. https://bit.ly/cxnEtA

Photo by John Urban.

Wedding Couple Gives Back by Donating to Interplast

BushWeddingHighCropped When Stephanie Bush and Juan Pablo Pecci decided to get married, they wanted to thank her parents (Steven and Lori Bush, Interplast board member) and give back to society at the same time.  They generously asked their wedding guests to donate to Interplast in lieu of presents.

As the parents of five children, Stephanie and Juan also wanted to help children and parents who live in poverty with little access to health care.  “I know that I grew up with privileges that so many children do not have.  Juan is from Argentina and when I visited there, I saw the poverty and conditions in which some children live,” said Stephanie.  “It was difficult to see, especially when you have children of your own, and I knew that I wanted to help in some way.”

“We are passionate about Interplast because of my step-mother’s commitment to the organization and because of how it helps so many children around the world,” continued Stephanie. “Asking guests to honor my parents and our celebration by donating to Interplast was a great way to give back---and it meant a lot to us to do it.”

Interplast is deeply grateful to the Bush-Pecci family for their support and generosity. We send them our best wishes for a wonderful life together.  They were married on May 29, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Photo: (from left to right) Juan Pablo Pecci, Stephanie Bush, Steven Bush and Lori Bush, Interplast board member;  by Jason + Anna Photography.

Patient Update: Shu Zhi

2880113104_4fefac5d03_b More than two years ago we met Shu Zhi in Qiqihaer, China.  Accompanied by her husband she stood in the back of the clinic day room wearing a face mask. At first glance nothing about her seemed particularly different from the rest of the patients in the hospital, until she shared her story with our team. Shu Zhi was born with a cleft lip and to avoid being stared at or poked fun of she began wearing a mask. Shu Zhi didn’t remember when she first started wearing a mask, but she had been hiding behind it for more than 40 years.

Interplast repaired Shu Zhi’s cleft lip and by doing so started a new chapter in her life, one that she never dreamed was possible.

DSC00154Recently, Shu Zhi asked her children, who, like so many others in rural China, have left their family’s small farm to work in the city, to send us a picture of her now. Sporting a beautiful new red shirt, she wanted to once again thank Interplast and to share her and her family’s happiness. 

We here at Interplast hope that you can share in their happiness, too. Thank you for helping us give patients like Shu Zhi a second chance at life.

Read the original story of when our team first met Shu Zhi here.  You can also watch a short slideshow of Shu Zhi’s transformation here.

Dadelin


Dadelin
Originally uploaded by interplast
Dr. Joyce Chen, Interplast Webster Fellow.

Prior to our arrival in La Paz, our team was aware of Dadelin, an angelic one-month-old baby girl who had congenital amniotic bands in her left leg that were causing intermittent compromise of blood flow to her foot. These constriction bands are formed in utero and have the potential to act like tourniquets, cutting off the blood supply to the arm or leg.

After Dr. Terrazas had initially evaluated her in one of the more remote areas in Bolivia and had recommended that surgery be postponed until she was older, her pediatrician called to tell him that the blood flow to her foot was getting worse. Routinely, our team does not operate on patients less than three months old, but we knew that we would likely need to make an exception to save her foot. We were fortunate to have several pediatric trained anesthesiologists on our team that were comfortable and competent administering anesthesia to neonates and infants. We operated and released the amniotic constriction bands and restored blood flow to her foot. Dadelin’s recovery was uneventful and after surgery, just like any other baby her age, she spent most of her day peacefully sleeping. Her tiny toes remained pink and warm.

Crossing Lake Titicaca


Crossing Lake Titicaca
Originally uploaded by interplast
Dr. Joyce Chen, Interplast Webster Fellow.

On the border of both Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world at 12,500 feet and the largest lake in South America. Without any bridges to allow cars and other vehicles passage across this sizable lake, local ferry operators are kept busy transporting vehicles and passengers alike. The ferry boats are not huge and can only accommodate a couple of cars and at times just one gigantic bus. With the winds’ permission, multiple ferries can transport vehicles simultaneously, providing safe passage for all aboard. What a sight it was to see the brightly colored buses and trucks bobbing up and down against the breathtaking backdrop of Lake Titicaca!

Boats Anyone?


Boats Anyone?
Originally uploaded by interplast
Dr. Joyce Chen, Interplast Webster Fellow.

After a week of hard work operating and taking care of patients in La Paz, part of the team visited Copacabana, a quaint town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Among the street vendors and markets, we discovered a delightful, elderly Bolivian woman crafting and selling reed boats of various sizes and character. She graciously allowed us to observe her deft hands at work, carefully and intricately designing the charming miniature boats that could actually float.

Sharing a Smile!


Sharing a Smile!
Originally uploaded by interplast
Dr. Joyce Chen, Interplast Webster Fellow.

In this picture two of our PACU nurses, Colleen and Kim, pose with two of the ward nurses of the Miraflores Central Military Hospital, where our patients recovered post-operatively. The joint efforts of our teams through open communication and great rapport led to excellent care and recovery of all the patients.

Global Health